Hyperthyroidism: What Are Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options?

Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine hormone. Your thyroid gland controls certain things like how quickly you burn calories and how fast your heart beats by releasing hormones to control your metabolism. However, hyperthyroidism can speed up your metabolism and cause symptoms such as a rapid or irregular heartbeat, unintentional weight loss, and more. Hyperthyroidism is more common in women and usually occurs after age 60.

If not diagnosed or treated on time, hyperthyroidism can lead to health complications such as red or swollen skin, heart problems, eye problems, brittle bones, and thyrotoxic crisis. Fortunately, several treatment options are available to cure hyperthyroidism.

Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of hyperthyroidism.

What Are the Causes of Hyperthyroidism?

Factors that contribute to hyperthyroidism include:

  • Graves’ disease
  • Thyroiditis
  • Plummer’s disease
  • Thyroid nodules
  • Excessive thyroid hormone is taken to treat hypothyroidism
  • Benign tumors of the pituitary or thyroid glands
  • Tumors of the testes or ovaries

What Are the Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism can cause symptoms such as:

  • Heart intolerance and sweating
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate and palpitations
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Moist skin and increased perspiration
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in menstrual periods
  • Shakiness in your fingers and hands (tremors)
  • Swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter)
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Increased appetite as a result of weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Swollen, bulging, or red eyes
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Fine, brittle hair
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping

When to See a Doctor

Visit your doctor if you experience swelling at the base of your neck, unintentional weight loss, unusual sweating, a rapid heartbeat, or other signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Keep track of your symptoms so you can clearly describe the symptoms or changes you are experiencing. This is important because some other health problems also share some symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

You should also visit your doctor as recommended if you have been treated for or are taking treatment for hyperthyroidism. Regular visits help your doctor monitor your condition more accurately.

Treatment Options for Hyperthyroidism

Once you are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, your doctor may recommend one  of the following treatments depending on your age, personal preference, health condition, and the underlying cause and severity of your condition:

1. Radioactive Iodine

This treatment involves swallowing a small amount of radioactive iodine. Your thyroid gland absorbs the radioactive iodine and destroys the overactive thyroid cells that produce excessive hormones. Symptoms will decrease within a few months, and the excess radioactive iodine will disappear from your body within a few weeks.  You may need to take an additional medication daily to replace thyroxine.

2. Anti-thyroid Medications

Your doctor may prescribe anti-thyroid medications, which prevents your thyroid gland from producing too much thyroxine hormone. Your symptoms can improve within a few weeks or months, but you may need to take medications longer depending on the severity of your condition.

3. Beta Blockers

Beta Blockers can ease a few symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as shaking, anxiety, a fast heartbeat, and tremors. However, you may need to continue taking these drugs until your thyroid levels return to normal. This treatment option is not recommended for people who have asthma.

4. Surgery

Your doctor may recommend thyroidectomy surgery if medications are not a good option for you. During the surgery, your doctor will remove all or part of your thyroid gland. You may be asked to take anti-thyroid medications before the surgery to avoid complications. If you develop hypothyroidism after the surgery, you will need to take a hormone supplement.

Related Article: Thyroid Nodules: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

How to Support Your Treatment

Whether your doctor recommends medications or surgery, you need to follow the  following steps to cope with the condition and support your body during its healing process:

  • Exercise regularly to improve your cardiovascular system and muscle tone.
  • Avoid drinking and smoking.
  • Practice relaxation techniques to maintain a positive outlook.
  • Eat foods that are rich in iron and vitamin B.
  • Avoid refined foods, processed meats, and suspected food allergens such as wheat, corn, dairy, soy, and chemical food additives.
  • Do not take an iodine supplement except if prescribed by your doctor.
  • Visit your doctor as recommended.

Call us today or visit our surgery center of Anchorage to receive the best treatment for hyperthyroidism.

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Dr. Madhu Prasad, M.D., FACS

Dr. Madhu Prasad has over 30+ years of experience working as a general surgeon and surgical oncologist and providing the highest level of care in Anchorage, Alaska. He believes in providing quality care to patients and their families. Inspired by compassion and humanism, Dr. Prasad and his team work for the well-being of their patients.

Surgery Center of Anchorage

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